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A Timeline History of Camberwell

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A timeline history of Camberwell with prints, photographs and maps
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Originally Camberwell was a small village in the county of Surrey.

Medieval Camberwell

1086 Domesday Book mention of Ca'brewelle and St Giles Saxon church

St Giles church rebuilt in stone

Camberwell Fair first held in August for the Feast of St Giles, patron saint of Camberwell.

Stuart Camberwell

1615 Wilson's school founded by Edward Wilson, vicar of Camberwell.

Great Plague - over 100 residents died

Parishioners formed vestry (a local council)

Georgian Camberwell

  Champion Lodge built on corner of Love Walk and Denmark Hill for Champion de Crespigny family with 30 acres of parkland. The boundary wall remains on Love Walk.

1739 Map of Friern Manor (British Museum) showed Camberwell Green

John Rocque's map of Camberwell showed:
Rainbow lane (now Southampton Way)
Lamastee Lane (now Wyndham Road)
Walnut Tree Grove (now Camberwell Grove)

Camberwell Hall opened on Grove Lane as the assembly room for the Camberwell Tea Gardens, which included extensive gardens. Became a popular venue for balls and concerts for the middle classes.

 Blackfriars bridge opened. It linked Camberwell to the City and led to much new building.

View of Walnut Grove (now Camberwell Grove) with Camberwell Hall to the left and Old St Giles.

1779 Dr Lettsom (1744-1815) bought land on Grove Hill and had a villa there. It was accessed by Walnut Grove.

Tollgate set up near Walworth Common (Westmoreland Rd)

Old St Giles church expanded

1789 Plan of Camberwell Green showed Camberwell Green farm facing Green

 Queen Lane (now lower part of Grove Lane)

Map of Friern Manor 
No 23 Champion Hill built by Michael Searles

Regency Camberwell

1801 Census for parish of Camberwell - 7,059
Print of the Camberwell Fair.

1809 Grand Surrey Canal ran from River Thames at Rotherhithe to Camberwell Road.

Robert Browning born in Rainbow Cottage, Cottage Green, off Wells Way

Camberwell New Road developed
Beresford Street Chapel built (now ruined)
Print of Dr Lettsom’s Grove Hill house

The Camberwell Workhouse opened in Havil Street in the parish of St Giles.

Grove Chapel by David Roper opened on Camberwell Grove
1823 Failed attempt by Camberwell Vestry to close down Camberwell Fair.
John Ruskin (1819-1900) moved to 28 Herne Hill, aged 4.

 St George's Church, Wells Way by Francis Burford (1784–1858) It was built in the Greek Revival style.

1825 Denmark Place Baptist Church built
Tiger pub opened on Camberwell Green

Beresford Street Chapel built on the south side of Beresford Street (now John Ruskin Street).

First Vestry building, Havil St

View of the Triangle at corner of Denmark Hill and Loughborough Junction.

Early Victorian Camberwell

1837 Cary’s map of London

Champion Lodge demolished and Champion Hill developed

Allport's History of Camberwell

Census for parish of Camberwell - 39,868
Old St Giles Church burned down

1842 Spring Song (originally Camberwell Green) composed by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847).
Oct: John Ruskin moved to 163 Denmark Hill from Herne Hil

New St Giles Church opened on Camberwell Church Street. Designed by George Gilbert Scott (1839-1897). It was built in in the Gothic Revival style with a 210 feet spire.

1846 Camberwell House Asylum opened on Peckham Road (now Sceaux Gardens

St Matthews Church built on Denmark Hill. (Partly destroyed in 1940).

Horse-drawn bus service introduced by Thomas Tilling (1825-1993). It ran 4 times a a day from Peckham to Oxford Street. 

1853 Congregational Church (Camberwell Green Chapel) built on Wren Road on site of the Old House on the Green.

Camberwell Fair (on Camberwell Green) suppressed due to “immoral and riotous behaviour”.

 Camberwell Vestry purchased Camberwell Green

 Camberwell Green opened as a public park
The Folklorist and song collector Cecil Sharp (1859 – 1924) born on Denmark Hill.

Mid Victorian London

 Census for parish of Camberwell - 71,488
Old Bowyer Manor House demolished (near Castlemead)

Camberwell New Rd station (Station Rd) opened (closed 1916)
Camberwell Gate station (John Ruskin St) opened (closed 1916)

Royal Flora Gardens closed (Wyndham Rd)

1866 Denmark Hill station opened. Designed by Charles Henry Driver (1832-1900).

1870 Saint James the Apostle opened on Knatchbull Road. Designed by T. George Low in a in a Decorated Gothic style, using Kentish ragstone and Bath stone.

John Ruskin sold 163 Denmark Hill (demolished in 1949 and replaced by Cross Court).
Ruskin moved to Brantwood House, Conistan in the Lake District.

New Vestry Hall, Peckham Road

 Blanche's history of Camberwell published. Written at 55 Denman Rd.
St Giles Infirmary opened to north of the Camberwell Workhouse.

 Mary Datchelor's School opened on Camberwell Grove. Closed in 1981. St Marys Catholic Apostolic Church by J. & J. Belcher opened on Camberwell New Road.

Late Victorian London

1887 William Rossiter (1831-1897) opened his Free Library and Art Gallery at 207 Camberwell Road (later to move to Peckham Road as the South London Gallery).  

 Cambridge House mission established.
Myatts Fields opened as a public park. Designed by Fanny Rollo Wilkinson (1855-1951), Britain's first professional woman landscape gardener.

Circular ward block added to St Giles Infirmary. Each level contained 24 beds around a central shaft in which were the ventilation & heating services.

1891 Census for parish of Camberwell - 235,344
Clarendon Baptist Church opened on Councillor Street,  off Camberwell New Road (now Cavalry Temple Church).
William Rossiter established the South London Gallery at Portland House on Peckham Road.

Camberwell Public Baths opened with two large swimming pool halls, one behind the other. 

Metropole opened as a theatre & playhouse on the Triangle (corner of Coldharbour Lane & Denmark Hill). 

Oriental Palace of Varieties opened on the corner of Denmark Hill/Orpheus Street by Dan Leno (1860-1904).
Fred Karno (1866–1941) established his Fun Factory at 38 Southwell Road off Coldharbour Lane. It was home to his vaudeville theatre group which later included Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.

1898 Technical Institute (later Camberwell School of Arts & Crafts) opened on the Peckham Road. Designed byMaurice Bingham Adams (1849–1933). It offered day and evening instruction across a wide range of subjects from Architecture, Furniture Design, Life Drawing and Stained Glass Work to Dressmaking. Fine arts department added in 1920.
Camberwell Police station opened on Camberwell Church Street.

National Westminster Bank, 17Camberwell Green built (now surgery)
Oriental Palace of Varieties rebuilt as Camberwell Palace (2000 seater)

Edwardian Camberwell

1900 Borough of Camberwell established
Colour-tinted postcard of Camberwell Green

Census for parish of Camberwell - 259,339

Passmore Edwards Library, Baths and Wash House opened on the corner of  Wells Way and Neate Street. Designed byMaurice Bingham Adams and William Oxtoby (1862–1918), on land donated by the Rolls family.

Hermit's Cave public house opened on Camberwell Church Street.

 Lyndhurst Junior School opened on Grove Lane.

Bridge built over the Grand Surrey Canal (now in Burgess Park). 

 Ruskin Park established on Denmark Hill
Brunswick Park opened (previously a private square). 

New Grand Hall opened  at 315-317 Camberwell New Road (seated 814)

Camberwell Green Peabody Trust flats built

Cinematography Theater, Cam New Rd, opened

 Kings College Hospital built by WA Pite

Camberwell in WW1

1914 Golden Domes Picture Theatre opened at 28-32 Denmark Hill
(later Rex Cinema & Essaldo Cinema and now a supermarket)
Bijou Theatre opened at 37 Denmark Hill (later Denmark Hill Post Office)

1914 Picture Empire opened at 55 Camberwell Road

 Maudsley Hospital built
Lionel Morrekton’s Chalk Farm to Camberwell Green by Gertie Millar

Camberwell New Rd and Camberwell Gate stations closed

Zeppelin air raid on Calmington Road (now in Burgess Park) killed 12 people.

Prewar Camberwell

1919 War memorial unveiled at St George’s Church, Wells Way. Sculpture by Arild Rosenkrantz (1870-1964)

1920 Camberwell War memorial unveiled at Camberwell Cemetery, Forest Hill Road, SE22

1921 View of Denmark Hill with Camberwell Palace on left and Camberwell Empire at top 

Grove House Tavern rebuilt

 William Booth Memorial Training College opened for the Salvation Army. Designed by Giles Gilbert Scott (1880-1960).

1933 Family of Michael Caine (born Maurice Micklewhite) moved to a two-room top floor flat (with outside toilet) at 14 Urlwin Street, SE5. Later attended John Ruskin School.

Camberwell Town Hall opened. Designed by Culpin and Bowers

Camberwell Empire demolished. 

Camberwell Odeon cinema built on the site of the Camberwell Empire. By Andrew Mather & Keith P. Roberts with seating for 2,470.

WW2 Camberwell

1940 Camberwell bombed during Blitz.
Regal Cinema opened at 254-272 Camberwell Road (bombed same year)

1943 County of London plan by Patrick Abercrombie published. Slum clearances and new open spaces including a North Camberwell space (Burgess Park).  

Camberwell suffered loss of life and damage to property from Flying Bombs

Post War Camberwell

1954 Champion Park estate opened (on site of Ruskin's house)

1958 Brandon estate built by the London County Council to designs by Edward Ernest Hollamby (1921-1999) and Roger Westman (1939-2020).

1959 Clarendon Baptist Church became Cavalry Church.
Sceaux Gardens Estate opened. An early example of high rise building.

Camberwell School of Arts extension built

Victorian Suburb: A Study of the Growth of Camberwell by HJ Dyos published. 
St Giles Trust founded by Fr. John Nicholls as The Camberwell Samaritans in the crypt of the church, offering relief and support to the large number of destitute people in the parish.
Regal Cinema, Camberwell Road, renamed ABC.

1962 Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 3 (1961) sculpture by Henry Moore (1898-1986) acquired for the Brandon Estate. 

St Marys Catholic Apostolic Church became a Greek Orthodox Church.
The Changing Face of Camberwell Film (32:12 mins) 
(high-rise buildings, parks, schools, churches, pubs & canal at 29:54)                   

Wyndham Estate built
Syd Barrett (later of Pink Floyd) attended Camberwell Art School

Kings College Dental hospital opened
Camberwell Borough became part of expanded Southwark Council

St Giles Vicarage demolished to make way for St Giles Centre
Pink Floyd first official photo session was in Ruskin Park

1968 Kings College Extension high rise block opened
Grand Cinema (ex-New Grand Hall) closed (later Bingo Hall & Snooker Hall & demolished in 2014)

Grand Surrey canal closed.
Camberwell Society formed.

Magistrates Court, Camberwell Green, opened

Castlemead Estate by GLC Architects opened on Camberwell Road. 
 St George’s Church closed on Wells Way. Later converted to housing.

ABC Cinema closed. Became a Bingo Hall and later a church. 

Burgess Park named after Councillor Jessie Burgess who had been Mayoress of Camberwell. It is built over slum clearance and the old Grand Surrey Canal.

Wilson’s School moved to Croydon.
Odeon Camberwell on Denmark Hill closed.

Selbourne Estate built by Wates.
A large lake was added toBurgess Park. It had the world’s largest plastic sheet lining, 12 million gallons of water and 11,000 fish.

1984 Denmark Hill station rebuilt after 1980 fire

House of Love founded. Based in Camberwell

Odeon Camberwell demolished.

Foyer homeless centre set up by Centrepoint on site of the Odeon.
Chumleigh Gardens in Burgess Park restored as World Gardens

Mary Datchelor's school buildings covered to flats.
Southwark Town Hall on Peckham Road closed after Southwark Council moved to Tooley Street.

Denmark Hill linked to new London Overground.
Burgess Park re-opened after an £8m redevelopment.

Camberwell Police station closed.

New Camberwell library opened by Camberwell Green

2017 Demolition of Aylesbury Estate began

Further reading

Ye Parish of Camberwell - WH Blanch (1875)
Old Camberwell - Philip Mainwaring Johnston (1919)
Victorian Suburb: A Growth of Camberwell - HJ Dyos (Univ of Leicester 1961)
Story of Camberwell - Mary Boast (Southwark Libraries 1996 rev ed)
Battle of South London - Arthur B Woolf (1945?)

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